Archive | October, 2010

Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

30 Oct

Well Fall this year is actually beautiful. Aside from the fact that it has been raining at least once a day consistently for at least two weeks, I think it hit like 80 degrees one day this week. It felt and smelt like summer. You know that summer smell where the air is just telling you to go do fun things. If only finance could be done without using books, writing utensils, or calculators and could be done in the woods. Staring at trees is just as productive as staring at stock price fluctuations anyway.

All this summer weather reminded me of my favorite band from a couple months ago. Hailing from Australia (which is now only preparing for its summer) is Tame Impala, with their debut album Innerspeaker!

I couldn’t find my favorite song off the album on youtube, so you get two other ones! (And neither three are the single at that!)

“I know where you went, but I don’t know how you get there”

I’d be sitting in a car with my friends on a warm day watching people walk by doing things, and I’d be smiling because this is probably one of the best lines ever.

Not to mention the music is like being transported to 1970 where everyone still kept the 60’s chill-out vibe. They sound like the Beatles would have if they started playing hard rock. No one else seems to agree but the singer sounds like John Lennon!

The random talking, the noises, reverb mixed with phasers. The lyrics speak to exactly the sound they are aiming for! If anything can describe this, it is simply professional. These Aussies definitely knew what they were doing. Specially considering that there are no Impalas in Australia. They must have envisioned this entire musical project a good while before it was enacted.

This band lists Dungen as one of their influences which excites me because I hear it and it is awesome. It is specially evident on my favorite song, with its psychedelic break-down at the end. Tame Impala can easily be the summer component to the winter Dungen.

I want everyone to listen to this music, close their eyes, and imagine summer. It’s like casting a spell and when you do it right you will start to feel warm inside as if the sun is shining upon you. Or it’s actually just meditation – same thing.

-oko

P.S. My favorite song is Desire be, Desire Go. There is only a live version on youtube, which I honestly didn’t listen to all the way. lol &)

Great Covers: “Hey Jude” by Wilson Pickett

28 Oct

It was well into Wilson Pickett‘s illustrious singing career when he recorded a successful version of The Beatles’Hey Jude” that turned into a #16 pop hit. No surprise about the great ranking. Pair a talented vocalist with an excellent song and generally you will produce good music.

Wilson Pickett’s version of “Hey Jude” was recorded after Pickett moved on from Stax Records after Stax banned all outside production in 1965. Pickett left to go to Fame Studios in Alabama where he recorded the highest charting version of Chris Kenner/Cannibal & The Headhunters’ “Land of 1000 Dances.” The reason I put Cannibal & The Headhunters is because their addition of the famous “na, na, na, na” lyric (which was originally a mistake, the singer forgot the lyrics mid-song) was used by Wilson Pickett and was instrumental in making his version famous.

*Six Degrees of Your Ipod Moment* Cannibal & The Headhunters helped put Wilson Pickett on the charts in a big way. They were also the opening act on The Beatles’ Second American Tour. Cannibal to Beatles to Pickett?

Back to the article. Pickett left Fame and went to American Studios in Memphis in 1967. He worked recording numerous Bobby Womack songs. After returning to Fame in 1968/69 he recorded “Hey Jude” with a band that featured Duane Allman. How about that? Listen to his impact and the amazing passionate voice of Wilson Pickett on this awesome recording of a Great Cover.

Guster Concert Review: Monday, Oct. 25 at Ithaca’s State Theater

26 Oct

Some bands just know how to have a good time on stage. They smile and laugh as they play their songs with passion and ease. They interact with the crowd, but, not excessively. “That would make listeners feel uncomfortable,” said my girlfriend Rebecca, who accompanied me to the show last night. Oh, and lest we not forget, some bands are composed of fantastic musicians who create compositions that can brighten a crowd and keep them in a state of euphoric joint singing for a solid two hours.

Last night, I went up to Ithaca and saw one of those bands. And, if there was one pervasive comment that was shared among those who attended the concert, it was most certainly one consistent with the conversation I had with my brother and his friends driving back to my brother’s Cornell dormitory after the show. Guster is awesome!

The State Theater is an intimate venue that served originally as a movie palace. Gothic and Renaissance architecture inspires the lavish interior adorned with medieval crests and a ceiling of constellations. It is somewhat dreamy, mystical even. It also provides solid acoustics. It was my first time at this venue. Our group ended up sitting in the balcony. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house. The stage is spacious and the members of Guster took advantage of the room, moving around freely while they played their hits.

The perennial college band that is Guster plays music that infuses a mix of fast-paced folk/pop with some unconventional inspirations, including a bongo set manned by the awesomely talented “Thundergod” Brian Rosenworcel. Guster can just as easily hit you with a wall of sound and make you want to get out of your seat and hop around, than it can sit you down with a slow bridge or song opening. The harmonies that Adam Gardner and Ryan Miller employ are fantastic. Here is the best way I can describe Guster. In any college you will run into several bands trying to do what Guster has done. But, creative, diverse, harmony-focused music is not as easy as Guster makes it seem on stage. So, these bands fizzle out and the lead singer/songwriter becomes a worried graduating senior (wait, are we still talking about Guster). Anyway, Guster never vanished. They are the constant in a countless field of evanescent college bands. Guster, though, has certainly transcended college. Most of their original fan base has probably settled down with kids. Guster certainly still attracts mostly college listeners, but, people do grow up and continue listening to music. Since they started in the early 90’s, the members of Guster have matured musically and this was evident yesterday night.

Picture I took at the Guster Concert Last Night.

How about we get to the concert. First, the opening act was awesome. I will be doing a profile on them in the upcoming future…so, as to not spoil it, I will not be talking about the opening act.

Guster opened up with the lyrics, “woke up today.” Crafty, Guster. “What You Wish For,” the classic Guster hit was followed by track four on the newly released album Easy Wonderful. “This Could All Be Yours,” is possibly the best song on the new album. Here, listen to it below.

The song is like new classic Guster. The bongos come back and we get harmony and elongated stretches of melodic noise. The lyrics are upbeat and the message is perfect. Keep making music like this Guster. The song is clean and mature. But, the rhythm is Guster of 8-10 years ago. It just works.

The concert continued with a few Guster favorites with a song off their new album mixed in. The crowds reaction when the opening chord and keyboard riff for “Satellite” was struck was just awesome. You could tell Ryan was having an awesome time (even though he and Adam were struck with a virus that they stated would hamper their performance, asking for crowd help singing on many songs. A clever ploy to get people singing your songs, I see. Seriously though, by the end of the show they looked exhausted. Well, Ryan did jump into the crowd during the encore. Well, I am getting ahead of myself aren’t I).

Perhaps the best one-two punch came next with songs eight and nine. “Come Downstairs and Say Hello” was welcomed by the arrival of Ryan’s instrument being slowly let down from the heavens. Seriously, it was lowered from the scaffolding. Anyway, it was perhaps Guster’s best song of the night. The slow beginning erupts into a fast-paced, energetic piece. Here is a great version:

The song was followed by “One Man Wrecking Machine,” the chorus of which is fantastically catchy. It was aided by the entire theater singing it right back at the band. I was impressed with how many people in the audience knew every word of every song. The rest of the set included a variety of old and new material. Guster did play “Demons” and “Barrel of a Gun,” easily the two biggest fan favorites of the show.

I was most impressed by the performance of “Either Way,” which Ryan prefaced with a choice. “I’m going to give you a choice on the next song, but I already know what you are going to pick,” he said. It was between the popular “Either Way” and “Ruby Falls,” good song, not as good as “Either Way.” The latter would have probably been easier on his strained vocal chords, affected by his virus, but, the crowd picked “Either Way” and Ryan sang the song excellently, holding out the falsetto with ease.

Yes, the concert ended with an encore where Ryan crowd surfed. This came during an impromptu performance of “Sweet Caroline” which was odd but well received. It was more like a collapse into the crowd. I don’t even think the band, fans, nor security guards even knew it was coming. Sitting in the balcony gave me a great look at surprised faces. Guster ended their 22-song set with a performance of “Manifest Destiny” (wrapping up every song Rebecca wanted to hear) and a rousing “Airport Song.”

Excellent show. They play their hearts out every time they go on stage and fans really do appreciate it. It’s exciting to see a band like Guster. Rarely do you experience a great band that is having just as much fun as the crowd is having. That is the charm of Guster.

Guster Tomorrow

24 Oct

Guess who is going to see Guster tomorrow. Yeah, this guy! My girlfriend and I will be making the hour trip to Ithaca where we will be meeting my brother (who goes to Cornell), eating some dinner and then going to see the show.

Guster’s tour is in celebration of their new album Easy Wonderful which stays true to the melodic, indie sound that made them famous all those years ago. Yes, the perennial college band that is Guster has aged, but, like fine wine, has just become better, and presumably more expensive. I don’t even know what I mean by that.

Anyway, this is going to be good. And, in my anticipation, here is Guster performing an acoustic version of “Demons” in Providence.

Things to Never Do: Terrible Album Covers

20 Oct

What goes into an iconic album cover? In order to understand horrendous and hilarious album covers, it is necessary to create a point of comparison. Let’s take a look at the winner of the Best Album Cover poll that the Music Court ran back in May.

The unforgettable Nevermind album cover (created by Robert Fisher) is considered one of the greatest album covers of all time. What is great about it? It is naturally symbolic and expressive without being forced. It is both simple and complex and actually works as a parallel to the music on the album which also is simple Grunge with complex lyrical and emotional elements. It works exceptionally well and has staying power. The staying power comes from the album cover being a memorable image, similar to Dark Side of the Moon and Abbey Road. It will stick in the minds of listeners and viewers for that matter.

So…what makes a terrible album cover. I would define a bad album cover as one that does not have staying power. The image may be good for a cheap laugh or a long “what the hell is this,” but after the initial glimpse the cover is out of memory. Let’s go through a few sure things to keep in mind if you want to avoid an album cover from hell.

– The cover cannot be over-the-top

– The cover cannot be overly weird

– The cover cannot include members of the band posed for a picture. It’s just bad. Stop doing it

– The cover should also not have members of the band looking away from the camera purposely. Seriously, the Beatles did it well. Everything else is cliche

Those are just a few bad moves. Like every good class though we need some examples. Right? So, here we go. The seven worst album covers ever.

1.) Bad Reputation by The Ritchie Family

What’s wrong with this besides the implied inter-racial motorcycle orgy? Exactly. How could this pass? Seriously, this album cover is scary. This cover is over-the-top and just odd. And, if your eyes can somehow go back onto this photo…look at the dog. Why is their a dog on the cover? Like there wasn’t enough bestiality represented already. Next.

2.) Jesus Use Me by The Faith Tones

I almost feel bad for the three ladies on the cover. I am sure back when this album came out “Jesus Use Me” implied something remarkably different than what it means now. But, wow, this is still god awful. Everything from the hair to the matching collared whatever the heck those are. I wont comment on the name of the album anymore because that is a completely different joke for a different post. But, the corniness of their pose is alarming. And, I have a serious fear that the hair on Faith Tone one may eat her face if it gets hungry.

3.) Lovehunter by WhitesnakeAm I allowed to post this on my blog or will I be shut down for posting pornographic images. Look, Whitesnake, I understand that you are sexually frustrated. But, if you want to put libidinous material on an album cover it may be a good idea to keep it less obvious. I don’t think anyone is looking at this album and not thinking of disgusting snake rape. Also, if anyone is still with me over here (the post is down here fans of snake rape) look at how big that snake is. Also, what is on her arm? Whitesnake, this is over-the-top of over-the-top. Seriously, gross.

4.) By Request Only by Ken

Yes. This has got to be it. The best of the worst. Ken, you just made my night. You see this just can’t be serious. We got this photo in the back of Ken (I suppose) sitting and smiling. That is bad. Not terrible, just bad. It violates the policy of not taking a staged photograph of yourself and putting it on the album cover. But, it becomes terrible and frightening when we get the superimposed close up of Ken, up close and personal, looking into our souls. This is legitimately scary. Ken, the classic man of the 70s and possessor of potentially the greatest bad album of all time. But, we still have more.

5.) Back to the Sh*t by Millie Jackson

Alright, so let me set the scene. Millie Jackson just got back from a long night of partying and buying a completely random flower vase with flowers for the floor of her dappled bathroom. She forgot to use the bathroom before she left and is craving the toilet. So, off one shoe goes and we get a snapshot of her taking a dump. Alright, I am glad we have that clear. I am going to go throw up. I have nothing against pooping, but, why the heck would this be your album cover? Why would you name your album Back to the Sh*t. Ken told you to do it right?

6.) Just read the album cover.

We are going foreign for this one and I believe I only have one thing to say. Kraghe has taken over the world of terrible photo manipulation. Imagine being on a boat and seeing him rise from the sea, smiling, in disco attire. Do the hustle and scream in terror.

7.) The Many Facets of Roger by Roger?

What a great way to end? Roger. Is that you Roger? Oh, hey Roger smiling. Roger knows best. Roger thinking. Roger’s sexy face. Is there anything to the fact that many of these terrible album covers come from the disco era? Well, thank goodness disco is dead.

Well, there you have it. Album covers that explore a deep level of horrid. So, what do you think is the worst? Roger!?! Oh, thank god, he is right there. I thought I lost him for a second.

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